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Charity slams coalition's 'ill-conceived' plan to cut benefits for under-25s

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Charity slams coalition's 'ill-conceived' plan to cut benefits for under-25s

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities

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Birmingham YMCA has slammed the coalition’s "ill-conceived" proposals to reduce or completely remove housing benefit for 16 to 25-year-olds, claiming the move will lead to more young people facing homelessness.

About 380,000 Brits aged under 25 currently receive housing benefit, the majority of whom are parents who have children living with them.

Around 66,000 of those claiming housing benefit are actually in employment but low wages and rising housing costs mean that they require support in order to pay their rent.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the plans earlier this month as the government looks to slash public spending by another £25 billion.

Alan Fraser, chief executive of Birmingham YMCA, said: “Young people have already had their entitlement to housing benefit cut. Many young people work hard, or study hard, or undertake training to try and improve their job prospects; it is not fair that they should be singled out for further reductions in their benefit entitlement, particularly when other groups are being protected.

“We believe these ill-considered proposals could worsen the homelessness crisis already afflicting young people. Put simply; without the safety net that housing benefit provides, many vulnerable young people will lose their homes.”

In the face of unprecedented demand for affordable property, Birmingham YMCA is exploring plans to provide more accommodation across the city. The charity announced plans last year to bring Harry Watton House in Aston back into use by converting it into a supported house scheme, and is now also exploring another location on the south side of the city which could provide over 60 much-needed bed spaces.

Alan Fraser added: “We have a huge homelessness problem in Birmingham compared to other local authorities and we’re in desperate need of more hostels and affordable accommodation. We hope our plans will help ease the situation but it is vital that Housing Benefit remains available as a safety net to those who genuinely need it – irrespective of their age.”

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